Electrical Panel Upgrades
Does your electrical panel need upgrading?
Homes today are electrical power hungry.
Today just our kitchen electrical systems take more power than an entire home did less than 30 years ago.
A kitchen, in a new home, will usually be equipped with a number of sockets capable of supplying more than 60 amps just to counter top appliances.
Adding sockets does not increase the available power if they are looped from other sockets.
To get more power to a location the circuit should run directly from the distribution panel.
An electric panel upgrade can be very expensive when upgrading from the existing electrical panel and with all the new appliances, and technical devices we now have in our homes, we find that older homes might not have sufficient power available to handle the increased demand. Therefore, a “panel change out” is required.
Panel Change Outs
A panel change out is usually required to alleviate a problem with the existing panel.
- Sometimes a breaker might overheat to the point that the buss bar in a panel gets burnt.
- The conductors between the meter and panel may become loose and burn out the main lugs, especially common when aluminium conductors were used.
- Split-buss panels, cheap builder-grade panels, panels contaminated by water, paint, and corrosive environments are often candidates for replacement.
Why Upgrade From a Fuse Box?
Many of us are familiar with the old wire fuses. And those that have a fuse panel know that if the 15 amp fuse keeps blowing you can put in a 20 amp, 25 amp, 30 amp fuse-wire until the fuse stops blowing.
This is where the problem lies.
The fuses are rated for the wire it is protecting.
Our standard lights and receptacles work off a 14 gauge wire.
The wire is rated to carry a maximum of 15 amps. So when we plug in too many devices on one circuit the fuse becomes overheated and ‘blows’.
By using a larger fuse we may stop the problem of the fuse blowing all the time but the wire is rated to carry only 15 amps.
Now that we have used a larger fuse the wire becomes overheated as it is working beyond capacity.
These overheated wires are running through wood studs in the walls.
The potential for fire now exists.
This is why the insurance companies would like the panel changed over from fuses to breakers. They know that the home will be much safer with a new breaker panel than the old fuse panel.
How to Troubleshoot a Fuse Box
In a home that uses a fuse box rather than a breaker box, every electrical circuit in the home will be connected to one of the fuses in the fuse box. The fuse provides a safety valve on the electrical current on that particular circuit. If the circuit becomes overloaded, or if there is a short on the circuit, the fuse will break. This stops the circuit and the power from reaching the outlets or devices that were previously powered by that circuit. In order to restore power, you need to know how to find the problem fuse in your fuse box and replace it.
See if the power in the rest of the house still works. If only certain devices or the lights in a certain room have gone off, then you likely have a blown fuse.
Locate the appropriate fuse in the fuse box. Fuses should be labelled. Identify the blown fuse by inspecting the fuses visually. Fuses in all devices, not just household fuse boxes, work by having a wire overheat and melt, causing a break in the circuit if the circuit becomes overloaded. When you inspect a household fuse, a blown fuse will appear to have a grey cloud on its surface. This is a fuse that needs to be replaced.
Turn off the power to the fuse box if you have the ability to do so. Some fuse boxes will have a primary override switch that you can use to kill the power to the entire box.
Unplug all the household devices that were plugged into outlets on the circuit that has the blown fuse. Also, turn off any lights on that circuit.
Replace the blown fuse. Use a fuse that is rated for the same number of amps as the one that you are replacing.
Turn the power back on to the fuse box, if you turned it off.
Start plugging devices back in one by one.
If your fuse blows again immediately,